San Antonio Spurs fans will always remember the 1997 NBA Draft, when the team literally won the lottery and scored some guy by the name of Tim Duncan.
The entire history of the franchise would have been changed if probability had worked out the right way and the Boston Celtics, the team with the worst record the previous season, had gotten the first pick.
The Celtics were all set to draft Duncan, and it looks like that was part of the pitch they made to Rick Pitino, who was then the head coach at the University of Kentucky. Pitino joined the Celtics but ended up with a 102-146 record with the team, which clearly made him second-guess his decision to leave the NCAA.
“I think I do regret leaving Kentucky because I took over a team with 15 wins banking everything on the Tim Duncan lottery,” Pitino said, “and once we didn’t get Tim Duncan I realized that leaving Kentucky was not a good move.”
The Celtics ended up with Chauncey Billups. Not a bad pick, but he didn’t really hit his prime until after his time in Boston.
For Pitino, hearing him say something like that isn’t new. He’s never really censored himself when it came to talking to the media. He’s just being honest.
I’m sure Spurs fans don’t even want to think about Duncan wearing green, so I’m not going to go through the “what if’s” or the “what would have been’s.” The Spurs just have to thank their lucky stars that things worked out the way they did, and they landed one of the greatest of all time.